From – The BRDC British Formula 3 Championship action heated up at Snetterton this morning, as the drivers in the 2016 field took to the 300 circuit in Norfolk ahead of this weekend’s opening rounds. Australian Thomas Randle went fastest as he held off 2015 MSA Formula Champion Lando Norris, with Double R’s Matheus Leist third quickest.

With a pit lane of 21 new Tatuus-Cosworth cars all prepped ahead of the British F3 season, the sun emerged through the clouds as the green light signalled the start of the day’s official testing. A damp track greeted the drivers but with plenty of running, the 2.99-mile circuit quickly dried and teams were able to begin their work ahead of the weekend.

After a number of initial forays by the majority of drivers, lap times started to drop and it was Douglas Motorsport’s Enaam Ahmed that set the pace after 90 minutes. He was soon knocked off top spot by Lanan Racing’s Toby Sowery, with the 2015 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award nominee edging ahead of last year’s MSA Formula rookie champion.

The order was to change once more however as first Matheus Leist, then Lando Norris, moved ahead of the pair to post the top-two fastest times of the morning session. As the track continued to get faster, last year’s Australian Formula 4 runner-up Thomas Randle posted a 1m43.092s to jump to the top of the pack.

As time ticked down, a number of drivers improved, but Carlin’s Norris could only get to within 0.329s of Randle as the chequered flag flew to end the session. Behind him came Leist, Ahmed and Sowery with Fortec Motorsports Tarun Reddy sixth and of Carlin’s Ameya Vaidyanathan. The top-10 was rounded out by Vaidyanathan’s team-mate Ricky Collard, Lanan’s Akhil Rabindra and Double R’s Finnish racer Aleksanteri Huovinen.

BRDC British Formula 3 – Snetterton – Friday Morning Test

1. Thomas Randle, Douglas Motorsport, 1m43.092s
2. Lando Norris, Carlin, +0.329s
3. Matheus Leist, Double R Racing, +0.484s
4. Enaam Ahmed, Douglas Motorsport, +0.747s
5. Toby Sowery, Lanan Racing, +0.901s
6. Tarun Reddy, Fortec Motorsports, +1.289s
7. Ameya Vaidyanathan, Carlin, +1.380s
8. Ricky Collard, Carlin, +1.466s
9. Akhil Rabindra, Lanan Racing, +1.502s
10. Aleksanteri Huovinen, Double R Racing, +1.668s
11. Quinlan Lall, Chris Dittmann Racing, +1.744s
12. Omar Ismail, HHC Motorsport, +1.950s
13. Al Faisal Al Zubair, Fortec Motorsports, +1.995s
14. Jan Jonck, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +2.028s
15. Eugene Denyssen, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +2.203s
16. Sisa Ngebulana, HHC Motorsport, +2.297s
17. Ben Hingeley, HHC Motorsport, +2.406s
18. Enzo Bortoleto, Double R Racing, +2.597s
19. Paul Sieljes, Chris Dittmann Racing, +2.802s
20. Thomas Maxwell, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +2.863s
21. Jeremy Wahome, Chris Dittmann Racing, +2.951s

Photo: Richard Styles